Today: Jul 16, 2024

Nationally recognized program in speech language pathology

REBECCA BAINERGeneral Assignment Reporter

Davis Hall is home to the graduate program in speech language pathology, a competitive program the department is proud of but that not many people know about.
The program is one of only two in the state—the other is located at UCONN. James Dempsey, the communication disorders department chair, said it is a competitive program; each year about 200 students apply, but the program only takes in between 35 and 40 students.
“It’s nationally known,” said Dempsey, “It’s an accredited program accredited by the American Speech and Hearing
All applications are put into a formula that is weighted based upon undergraduate GPA scores, GRE scores, letters of reference and a personal statement, according to Dempsey. An admissions committee reviews applications and Dempsey said that unlike most graduate programs, this program does not have rolling admission.
“We have a February deadline for all application materials and then the end of February through beginning of March is
when we evaluate all those applications,” said Dempsey. “The top people get offered spots and unfortunately a lot of people don’t getinto the program.”
Deborah Weiss, graduate program director of the department of communication disorders, said the class size is relatively small with around 20-25 students and she believes it is because of this as well as the faculty and staff that the program is so successful.
“I think that first of all we do have a very dedicated and open faculty,” said Weiss. “So people have a real open door policy where students are able to speak with faculty and get assistance from our faculty.”
There is also an active clinic in Davis Hall, which Weiss said provides services to the public at reduced prices.
“There’s a tight coordination between our academics and our clinic program, so that what students are learning in the classes they’re also applying clinically,” said Weiss. “The fact that we have such an active clinic here on campus is another strength.”
DonnaJean Fredeen, dean of the school of arts and aciences, said the clinic offers valuable services to Southern and she has had a positive personal experience with the clinic.
“When my son was 3 years old, he worked with a graduate intern in the speech pathology clinic and made great gains in his articulation,” said Fredeen. “To this day, he remembers his experience with the graduate intern.”
Dempsey said in addition to being active in both speech and hearing, the clinic is also busy with audio logically and fits many adults with hearing aids.
“We do no advertising at all for our clinic and yet there’s still a long waiting list for our services,” said Dempsey. “People are aware; there’s a reputation.”
Dempsey said faculty members attend and present at conventions and conferences.
“We do have an active group of faculty and staff,” said Dempsey. “So that’s another way that the name of the university gets out there and our program gets out there.”
The reason the program is in such demand has to do with the fact that there is a state and national shortage of speech language pathologists, and Dempsey said most of the people in the field are women.
“I think it’s growing because word is out…people who are looking for careers down the road learn in high school now that speech language pathology is one of those hot areas,” said Dempsey. “In terms of the opportunities that are out there for females, speech language pathology seems like a pretty good one because the jobs are going to be out there.”
Weiss said the jobs are absolutely out there and job placement is almost perfect.
“The job outlook is very positive,” said Weiss. “Our students typically have more than one offer and we really have 100 percent placement in terms of employment for students who seek employment.”
In terms of growth for the program here at Southern in the future, Dempsey said he would love for the program to grow but there is not enough physical space for that to be possible.
“The negative side is that this building that we’re in was never designed to be a speech and hearing clinic,” said Dempsey. “So we make use of every inch of space here and we really don’t have physical room to accommodate more clientele here.”

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